Stay Tuned
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Top Chef" Finale: A Sad But Satisfying Ending

Warning: If you have not seen the season finale of “Top Chef: Chicago,” stop reading now…

As “Top Chef: Chicago” took its last commercial break last night, I was feeling a little sick because I had come to a horrible realization…

Lisa could actually win this thing.

The judges went wild for her second course and really enjoyed her fourth. The judges generally liked Stephanie’s first and second, loved her third, but disliked her fourth. And my boy Blais? Just like Casey last season, he was totally off his game.

And if there was any doubt about that, he admitted it himself when he shocked Gail by saying “I choked.”

Without Blais in the equation, that left Lisa a strong contender—especially since she was actually calm and in a good mood in the kitchen. But of course, in pure Lisa fashion, she had to destroy the calm by bragging about her chances in the stew room.

So thankfully, the judges made the right decision and named Stephanie the Top Chef—the first female winner in the show’s history.

However, all the blogosphere can talk about today is Blais and his sad defeat.

In his blog on Bravo’s website, judge Ted Allen wrote:

“The day after the finale shoot, waiting with Barry [his partner] for our flight, I saw Richard wandering alone through the airport in Puerto Rico. He looked dazed. And I felt so sorry for him. He was, of course, ever gracious to everyone after the battle, putting on a brave face with cast and judges alike for post-show drinks in Old San Juan (at 6 a.m., no less), congratulating Stephanie with complete sincerity, thanking the producers. But at the airport, in the clear light of day, it was obvious that the finality was hitting him. Nobody fights that hard for second place.”

So what happened? Blais was totally off his game from the beginning. I’ve always been amazed at how quickly he conceptualized dishes this season. But for some reason it just didn’t happen this time. In his first interview after the challenge was announced, Blais said he was “just waiting for the lightning bolt.” Unfortunately for him, it never came…

When at the end of the first day Blais said he had no “finished dishes,” I knew it was over for him.

As for his admission that he “choked,” I wouldn’t call it shocking, but it was sad because I believe he truly deserved to win. And he really wanted to win—not just for him, but also for his wife and his then unborn child (She was born two weeks ago.).

And yes, just as I warned you about, Bravo did trick us with the promos that made it look like Blais went after Lisa. But I should have known that he’s classier than that.

And I should have known that Gail, the Paula Abdul of “Top Chef,” was overreacting to something…

Next week, we can hear the whole story on the “Top Chef” reunion. We’ll also learn the identity of the Fan Favorite. Based on the poll results last night, I’m guessing Stephanie has a great shot, but my money’s on Andrew.

I can guarantee you it won’t be Lisa…